Lions’ new plan of attack on defense? Ever-changing looks

New Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin spent the last three years as the secondary coach for the Baltimore Ravens.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin considers himself to be a bit of a handyman, both on and off the field.

That’s part of the reason he’s excited about the new defensive system Teryl Austin is installing.

Austin, who spent the last three years as the secondary coach for the Baltimore Ravens, followed coach Jim Caldwell to Detroit. This is the first time Austin has been a coordinator in the NFL.

His vision includes turning the Lions into a defense with ever-changing looks in an attempt to keep the opposing offense guessing, instead of the other way around.

Here’s the analogy Quin used to describe the scheme:

"If you’ve got a whole bunch of tools, you kind of walk around looking for stuff to fix ’cause you just want to use your tools. When you don’t have a bunch of tools, you’re just kind of ‘Aw, I can get it tomorrow.’

"Going into games, having a whole bunch of different stuff, a whole bunch of different tools that we can use, we’re going to look for those opportunities to figure out which one works best and use it. Hopefully, that will equate to more turnovers and a dominant defense."

Former Lions coach Jim Schwartz has a defensive background, so he was heavily involved in the game-planning, especially last season.

Caldwell, meanwhile, has been mostly a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator during his career, so he’s more likely to let Austin run the show defensively.

Austin is inheriting a defense that didn’t make big plays each of the last two seasons, which was a major factor in the team posting a combined 11-21 record and failing to make the playoffs both times.

In 2013, the Lions were tied for 17th in the NFL in interceptions (15), tied for 22nd in fumble recoveries (seven) and 28th in sacks (33).

The previous year, they were tied for 23rd in interceptions (11), tied for 26th in fumble recoveries (five) and tied for 20th in sacks (34).

A change clearly was needed.

"We’re going to try to give the offenses as many looks as we can," Austin said. "Bring people from different angles, try to make them adjust to us instead of us always adjusting to them."

Three months from the regular-season opener, in the midst of Organized Training Activities, it’s all just talk right now. Every coach and coordinator takes over with the intention of fixing whatever was wrong and got the previous staff fired.

In the end, it still comes back to the playmakers they’re putting on the field.

Still, at this point, Quin sounds encouraged by Austin’s plan, especially the emphasis on pre-snap movement.

"I definitely think it’s more fun," said Quin, who has been limited in offseason practices following ankle surgery. "It’s a long season. They (opponents) have a whole week to scout you. After Week 4 or 5, if you’re not changing up things, they can kind of hone in on what you’re doing and come up with a game plan to really make you re-evaluate some things.

"For them to come into games not knowing exactly what we’re going to do, us mixing it up … that could make a big difference. I’m definitely excited about that."